An impressive lineup, to be sure, but few of the bands used their allotted time (most played 30 minutes, the larger bands longer) to connect with the audience, comprised mostly of bored teens who seemed happier cruising the food and merchant area outside the venue than they did sitting through most of the performances.
Instead, many of the groups acted as if they’d rather be anywhere else, and played uninspired sets that were greeted with the apathy they deserved. Most obvious was the snide set delivered by Epic’s Oasis, who finally deigned to play an L.A. show.
While the band was tight, and singer Liam Gallagher’s rested vocals were in fine shape, his stage demeanor was cold, and his singing style was one-dimensional and indifferent. When he realized the crowd wasn’t hysterical during opener “Supersonic,” as it would be back home in England, Liam stood at stage’s edge and stared defiantly back at the unimpressed faces.
Only when he left the stage and guitar-playing brother Noel — undoubtedly the more talented of the battling siblings — sang lead on the apologetic, Beatles-esque “Don’t Look Back in Anger” did Oasis connect with anyone. Dispelling recent rumors of estrangement, the two briefly embraced at set’s end.
At the other end of the long day’s musical spectrum, Thom Yorke led Radiohead through a brilliant midday performance of songs from their upcoming “OK Computer” (Capitol) album. All but lost in himself during such moving tunes as “Exit Music (From A Film),” from last year’s “Romeo & Juliet” soundtrack, Yorke’s delicate voice and his four mates provocative backing made for the event’s best offering.
Like most of the day’s British group’s, though, Radiohead was roundly ignored. “You’re all mindless anyway,” Yorke informed the crowd before playing the psychedelic “The Bends.” “So you’ll probably like this one.”
Robert Smith and the Cure, who decided not to tour behind their spotty new Elektra album “Wild Mood Swings,” were arguably the crowd favorite, though technical delays tested the patience of many of those who waited for their post-midnight appearance.
Proving that the gloom genre of the ’80s isn’t dead yet, scores of Smith devotees screamed through the Cure’s 90-minute set, which was highlighted by an encore hits medley of “Love Song,” “Friday I’m in Love” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” “The curfew has been broken,” said Smith as he left the stage, news to no one.
Most bizarre moment of the Hawaiian-themed show was the appearance of ever-youthful Don Ho, who sang “Tiny Bubbles” while backed by Orange County ska-punkers Reel Big Fish.
Also entertaining were the Foo Fighters, whose edgy hard-rock was second only to Social D for the most musically muscular of the 14 mainstage bands. Flamboyant Foos guitarist Pat Smear, formerly of the Germs and Nirvana, almost stole the show from leader Dave Grohl. His combination of distorted guitar and high heels was a fine distraction from Grohl’s lame vocals.
Old KROQ favorites Echo & the Bunnymen have regrouped and released a new album, but they did a poor job selling it here, peaking with their first song, past hit “Lips Like Sugar.”
The harder rock of Boston ska kings Mighty Mighty Bosstones and local punk outfit the Offspring drew most of the day’s loudest cheers. The best thing to say about North Carolina lounge rockers Squirrel Nut Zippers is that they featured the only female musician among the bands.
A number of local charities, including AIDS Project Los Angeles and AIDS Walk Orange County, benefit from Weenie Roast profits.